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Saturday, September 30, 2006


On 22 September I flew from London to Tokyo to stay for a few days with nephew Jack and his wife Miki. The first two days were spent acclimatising in Tokyo where a number of Japanese bird species were found in local parks.

Jack and Miki in Tokyo

One of the main objectives of the trip was to fly up to the north island of Hokkaido to find the endangered iconic Japanese Red-crowned Crane, famous for their spectacular dancing courtship displays. Thanks to Jack's organisation, the flights to Hokkaido were flawless and within minutes of landing in Kushiro we had found the cranes' captive breeding centre where close views of the rare birds in breeding pens were seen. However, to be really meaningful, it was necessary to observe the species "wild".

Japanese Red-crowned Crane

Fortunately one of the keepers knew of a pair that was feeding in a freshly-mown meadow a few miles away and he kindly guided us to the location. To see these spectacular birds (once reduced to a mere handful of wild pairs) free and wild was a truly moving experience.

Jack had also organised a private interview with one of the staff of the International Crane Research Centre where we were given a slide show reviewing the development of the research on crane conservation and treated to a guided tour round the centre.

The remaining time on Hokkaido was spent exploring the coastline of the island where interesting birds like the colourful Harlequin Duck were found, and local villagers were harvesting and drying kelp seaweed to sell.

Villagers harvesting seaweed on Hokkaido
On the final morning, we flew back down to Tokyo where I said farewell to Jack who set me on the monorail for the airport for departure to Australia, the next phase of my trip.

My grateful thanks to Jack and Miki for their warm hospitality.


Blogger simon said...

Sounds great trip!

The cranes look amazing!

7:56 am  
Blogger TCA 2006 said...

Mission accomplished! Glad you had a good time. Looking forwar to news from Auss.


9:24 am  
Blogger tortoiseshell said...

Dancing cranes? Courtship rituals? You're obviously going soft in your retirement!

12:11 pm  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

ahhhhhhhh jetlag! You really are striking out to the farthest climes this time!

10:05 am  
Blogger Davy said...

Well, that sets a standard that Simon will have to work hard at to top. Glad to see that you got the cranes. Shame about all those made-up birds... "Big-billed Crow...."?

3:29 pm  
Blogger Davy said...

I guess you've caught up with spring again? Still Hail Orion? Or have you changed your allegiance yet again? Turncoat!



8:46 pm  
Blogger Kiwi Nomad 2006 said...

Still waiting to hear about the Oz experience! Despite the rivalry, I have to admit I love all the Aussie landscapes and birds!

10:34 am  

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